Encouraging home game
Tsmoki beats Russia’s Krasny Oktyabr 89:84 at home, during regular VTB United League championship match
The last Minsk match of the season between the basketball rivals was full of thrills and action, including two sessions of overtime, finally resulting in a 113:112 win for the Russian host team. As the season begins, squads are eager to prove their strength. The struggle went into an additional five minutes (with a score at 92:88 just beforehand).
Rashaun Freeman (centre) — one of Tsmoki-Minsk leadersDespite being equally matched, Tsmoki had lost its previous three games to Krasny Oktyabr, which inspired a certain frisson to the meeting. No doubt, the Belarusians wished to settle accounts with the Volga team on home ground. Meanwhile, the guests needed victory to secure their place in the play-offs.
Initially, the hosts held the initiative for some time, receiving huge support from the stands. Rashaun Freeman and Alexander Kudryavtsev attacked hard, taking the squad into the lead straight away. After a ‘time-out’ of one minute, Krasny Oktyabr then rallied, reducing the gap 23:15. Tsmoki continued to battle, widening the gap (including with three point throws) to coach Igor Grishchuk’s delight. The Russian squad failed to match such play, with all four of their long distance attempts missing the hoop and leader Randy Culpepper blocked by our defence. As a result, Tsmoki confidently led at the close of the first half — 48:33.
Minsk’s quick succession of 13 points early in the third quarter somewhat demoralised Krasny Oktyabr, leaving them 25 points behind. However, the Russian team pulled themselves together for the final quarter, when Randy Culpepper and Willie Din struck hard, meeting some ineffective defence. Krasny Oktyabr managed 10 points but the Belarusian team handled the penalty area almost faultlessly, allowing Tsmoki to break its unsuccessful run. Krasny Oktyabr still has a chance to reach the play-offs.
By Kirill Karin